Museums in Jerusalem: Museum on the Seam
The Museum on the Seam, also known as the Baramki House after its original owner, is a socio-political contemporary art museum located in Jerusalem. The museum, in its unique way, presents art as a language with no boundaries in order to raise controversial social issues for public discussion. At the center of the changing exhibitions in the museum stand the national, ethnic and economic seam lines in their local and universal contexts.
The museum is committed to examining the social reality within our regional conflict, to advancing dialogue in the face of discord and to encouraging social responsibility that is based on what we all have in common rather than what keeps us apart.
Both in the past, as in the present, the buildings value is based on its strategic importance in terms of geography. Situated in a building constructed in 1932 by the Arab-Christian architect, Andoni Baramki, the building sits just outside the Old City of Jerusalem. It was first captured by Haganah forces in 1948 who used it as a forward military position and outpost while battling for Israel's independence.
After the war, when Jerusalem was divided, the Mandelbaum Gate was built alongside the museum. The Mandelbaum Gate area was the sole location for Israel-Jordan Armistice Committee meetings, held between officers of the IDF and the Jordanian Legion officers, under the auspices of the United Nations. It is due to this precocious position where the museum gets its name - its lies directly on the "seam" between West and East Jerusalem.
Later, in 1967, the building was once again on the frontlines of war when Jordan attacked Israeli West Jerusalem. The Israel Defense Forces successfully defeated the Jordanian assault and the division between East and West Jerusalem was destroyed.
In 1999, with the generous support of the von Holtzbrinck family of Germany, the Museum on the Seam was officially established through the Jerusalem Foundation and by the initiative of the designer and curator of the Museum, Raphie Etgar.
Between May 2005 and June 2008 the Museum presented a series of exhibitions on the theme of human rights. The series was opened with DEAD END that dealt with the threat that violence poses to our social fabric.
The second exhibition in the series EQUAL AND LESS EQUAL opened in September 2006. It dealt with work/slavery and exposed the distressed existence of man in a world of globalization and migration.
In the summer of 2007 BARE LIFE opened at the Museum, the third exhibition and last in the series dealing with human rights. The exhibition, which closed in June 2008, dealt with the disintegrating line between abnormal and normal situations. The exhibit pointed to the dangerous place where a temporary emergency situation can be turned into a legitimized status quo accepted by the silent majority, a situation that can in the end lead to a paranoia of suspicion and to the use of violence to re-establish public order.
Exhibition HEARTQUAKE, which was dedicated to exploring anxiety in its local and universal contexts, was opened in July 2008. HeartQuake tried to expose and to accentuate people’s emotional confrontation with their surroundings, and through the prism of anxiety to examine their responses as injurers and as injured - with the aim of understanding and influencing the dynamics of social and political relations.
The exhibition NATURE NATION closed in November 2009. The exhibition Nature Nation was based on diverse aspects of distinctions, positions, beliefs, ideologies, and social, political and economic points of departure that explore the complex encounter between man and the environment and between man and nature. The exhibition proposes a critical reading, which presumes that the encounter between them is a mirror for broader phenomena. This mirror reflects the crisis in the relations between man and nature, which finds expression in neglect, conquest and deterioration.
The exhibition HomeLessHome opened in January 2010 and aspired to investigate the relationship between the private home and the state. It studied the formal and functional similarity between the two spaces which enabled the definition of both as "home" (the national home), and the difference between them, which traditionally places the former in the private (or natural) sphere and the latter in the political sphere. The difference was explored in light of the traditional placement (since Aristotle) of the home as the "other" of the political, containing what has been removed from it, and thus defining the contours of the political, which it may not trespass. The home is seen as something "natural", as a space dominated by needs that are of no interest to the designed public space. Its interior is identified as a private, safe space, beyond the reach of legitimate intervention of the state.
The museum's most recent exhibitions are The Right to Protest and WESTEND.
The Right to Protest: At a time of differing and various ideologies - distinct from one another, mutually remote in their location on the political spectrum and moreover, mutually hostile - Israeli society is divided in its protest; it seeks a solution for its difficulties, it is split and fractured, with profound rifts both within itself, and vis-à-vis its Palestinian neighbors. This marks the onset of a debate occurring in this exhibition, on the affinity between ideology and artistic creativity. That creativity sets out for us the ideology, by means of the artist serving as moral compass between contradictions and opposites.
WESTEND: Opened June 2011, WESTEND invites its viewers to partake in an experience as it is happening, and to examine the different approaches of artists who created their works in the abovementioned space of conflict. To walk between struggles for honor, faith, and prestige weighted down by suspicion, and to look closely at the maze of hostility that led two civilizations to an existential struggle on power and control of the world of tomorrow. Visiting the exhibition will, for a moment, blur the border between imagination and reality. The images from the streets that are reflected on television screens pervade the exhibition halls, are affected by them, and interfere with them. The works that react to this reality do not pass judgments, but rather, open another debate within this reality. But is there one reality? Is there a cross-reality path that allows us to pass from one reality to another? Can the language of art, literature, or creation in general affect us, the human society, and teach us not to repeat the mistakes of the past and the tragedies born of the hatred, separation, and rejection of the other? Maybe the world would conceive of a middle ground for those who live side by side, and want to live side by side, as equals.
Museum on the Seam
4 Chel Handasa st.
Fax : +972-2-6277061
Email: [email protected]
Buses #30 & #6 pass the musuem.
Sources: Gems in Israel; Museum on the Seam